On Wednesday night, I attended a preview of the Black Box Theatre’s latest presentation The Guys, written by Anne Nelson. Based on a true story, the play follows an editor named Joan (Jennifer Cook Gregory), who receives an unexpected phone call from Nick (Jim Harris), a fire captain who has lost most of his men in the 9/11 attacks. Directed and designed by Lora Adams, The Guys is a poignant and conversational piece that brought forth, to me, many horrific and sad images from that devastating day.

Any time you have the chance to catch a brand-new script in performance, it’s bound to be interesting. Local playwright Jim Sederquist kicked us back to 2013 with his new dramedy The Whistleblower’s Dilemma, and, under the direction of Mike Turczynski, Saturday’s presentation at the Playcrafters Barn Theatre definitely lived up to “interesting.”

When I sat down for Saturday's presentation of Outside Mullingar, I was already impressed by the high quality of the performers' credits, along with the large quantity of shows each has done. I was soon to be dazzled.

I attended Quad City Music Guild's Thursday preview of Matilda: The Musical, and as I'd never before seen the 2010 show, hadn't seen the 1996 movie, and hadn't read the 1988 Roald Dahl book it's based on, I obviously came very late to this party – and it's a huge party.

Does everything that happens to us happen by chance? Or could our reactions to life’s events change their outcomes in small or large ways? (I've heard it said before that what might break one person may actually strengthen another, and although we cannot control outside events or circumstances, we can choose how we react.) These thought-provoking questions came to mind as I finished watching Sunday’s matinée performance of playwright Nick Payne’s Constellations, now playing at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre.

It was a lovely summer evening at the Timber Lake Playhouse on Friday night, with glowing stringed lights hanging throughout the campground that added a tranquil feeling outside. Inside the theatre, it was equally pleasant, with the welcoming, rustic set design by Sherri Howells providing a fabulous, bluegrass-and-country playing area for the venue's latest musical presentation The Robber Bridegroom.

While Friday’s opening night for Countryside Community Theatre’s production of Newsies: The Musical didn’t completely change my mind about the plot points (why is “Santa Fe” now the opening number?!), director/choreographer Ashley Mills Becher’s version packed big punches of fun and personality that made the night undeniably exciting.

I had the pleasure of attending Friday’s performance of The Mountaintop at the Quad Cities’ newest live-theatre venue, the Mockingbird on Main. Penned by American playwright Katori Hall, this story is a fictional depiction of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his last night on earth, the eve of his assassination. As as directed by Kira Rangel, with production design by Savannah Bay Strandin and Tristan Tapscott, this piece takes patrons into the unique inner struggles of one of the most influential civil-rights leaders of all time.

This 2005 show set in Minnesota in the mid-'60s, has inspired such a ravenous fandom that there are now seven related musicals in this series. The Circa '21 Dinner Playhouse has produced some of them – one just this spring. Yet somehow, I'd so far escaped these ladies' clutches. I'm here to tell you I was clutched, but good, at Thursday's opening-night performance at the Clinton Area Showboat Theatre.

Including its music direction by Michael McBride and Stancato's and associate Felicia Finley’s choreography, this outstanding production brought a brand-new, never-before-seen concept to this powerful musical. It really made me think about the story I was witnessing in a very contemporary, creative way.